George Whitefield Sermon 23

Marks of a true Conversion

Matthew 18:3, "Verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become

as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

I suppose I may take it for granted, that all of you, among whom I am

now about to preach the kingdom of God, are fully convinced, that it is

appointed for all men once to die, and that ye all really believe that

after death comes the judgment, and that the consequences of that judgment

will be, that ye must be doomed to dwell in the blackness of darkness, or

ascend to dwell with the blessed God, for ever and ever. I may take it for

granted also, that whatever your practice in common life may be, there is

not one, though ever so profligate and abandoned, but hopes to go to that

place, which the scriptures call Heaven, when he dies. And, I think, if I

know any thing of mine own heart, my heart's desire, as well as my prayer

to God, for you all, is, that I may see you sitting down in the kingdom of

our heavenly Father. But then, though we all hope to go to heaven when we

die, yet, if we may judge by people's lives, and our Lord says, "that by

their fruits we may know them," I am afraid it will be found, that

thousands, and ten thousands, who hope to go to this blessed place after

death, are not now in the way to it while they live. Though we call

ourselves Christians, and would consider it as an affront put upon us, for

any one to doubt whether we were Christians or not; yet there are a great

many, who bear the name of Christ, that yet do not so much as know what

real Christianity is. Hence it is, that if you ask a great many, upon what

their hopes of heaven are founded, they will tell you, that they belong to

this, or that, or the other denomination, and part of Christians, into

which Christendom is now unhappily divided. If you ask others, upon what

foundation they have built their hope of heaven, they will tell you, that

they have been baptized, that their fathers and mothers, presented them to

the Lord Jesus Christ in their infancy; and though, instead of fighting

under Christ's banner, they have been fighting against him, almost ever

since they were baptized, yet because they have been admitted to church,

and their names are in the Register book of the parish, therefore they will

make us believe, that their names are also written in the book of life. But

a great many, who will not build their hopes of salvation upon such a sorry

rotten foundation as this, yet if they are, what we generally call,

negatively good people; if they live so as their neighbors cannot say that

they do anybody harm, they do not doubt but they shall be happy when they

die; nay, I have found many such die, as the scripture speaks, "without any

hands in their death." And if a person is what the world calls an honest

moral man, if he does justly, and, what the world calls, love a little

mercy, is not and then good-natured, reacheth out his hand to the poor,

receives the sacrament once or twice a year, and is outwardly sober and

honest; the world looks upon such an one as a Christian indeed, and

doubtless we are to judge charitably of every such person. There are many

likewise, who go on in a round of duties, a model of performances, that

think they shall go to heaven; but if you examine them, though they have a

Christ in their heads, they have no Christ in their hearts.

The Lord Jesus Christ knew this full well; he knew how desperately

wicked and deceitful men's hearts were; he knew very well how many would go

to hell even by the very gates of heaven, how many would climb up even to

the door, and go so near as to knock at it, and yet after all be dismissed

with a "verily I know you not." The Lord, therefore, plainly tells us, what

great change must be wrought in us, and what must be done for us, before we

can have any well grounded hopes of entering into the kingdom of heaven.

Hence, he tells Nicodemus, "that unless a man be born again, and from

above, and unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter

into the kingdom of God." And of all the solemn declarations of our Lord, I

mean with respect to this, perhaps the words of the text are one of the

most solemn, "except, (says Christ) ye be converted, and become as little

children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." The words, if you

look back to the context, are plainly directed to the disciples; for we are

told, "that at the same time came the disciples unto Jesus." And I think it

is plain from many parts of Scripture, that these disciples, to whom our

Lord addressed himself at this time, were in some degree converted before.

If we take the words strictly, they are applicable only to those, that have

already gotten some, though but weak, faith in Christ. Our Lord means, that

though they had already tasted the grace of God, yet there was so much of

the old man, so much indwelling sin, and corruption, yet remaining in their

hearts, that unless they were more converted than they were, unless a

greater change past upon their souls, and sanctification was still carried

on, they could give but very little evidence of their belonging to his

kingdom, which was not to be set up in outward grandeur, as they supposed,

but was to be a spiritual kingdom, begun here, but completed in the kingdom

of God hereafter. But though the words had a peculiar reference to our

Lord's disciples; yet as our Lord makes such a declaration as this in other

places of Scripture, especially in the discourse to Nicodemus, I believe

the words may be justly applied to saints and sinners; and as I suppose

there are two sorts of people here, some who know Christ, and some of you

that do not know him, some that are converted, and some that are strangers

to conversion, I shall endeavor so to speak, that if God shall be pleased

to assist me, and to give you an hearing ear and an obedient heart, both

saints and sinners may have their portion.

FIRST, I shall endeavor to show you in what respects we are to

understand this assertion of our Lord's, "that we must be converted and

become like little children." I shall then,

SECONDLY, Speak to those who profess a little of this child-like


And LASTLY, shall speak to you, who have no reason to think that this

change has ever past upon your souls. And

FIRST, I shall endeavor to show you, what we are to understand by our

Lord's saying, "Except ye be converted and become as little children." But

I think, before I speak to this point, it may be proper to premise one or

two particulars.

1. I think, that the words plainly imply, that before you or I can

have any well-grounded, scriptural hope, of being happy in a future state,

there must be some great, some notable, and amazing change pass upon our

souls. I believe, there is not one adult person in the congregation, but

will readily confess, that a great change hath past upon their bodies,

since they came first into the world, and were infants dandled upon their

mother's knees. It is true, ye have no more members than ye had then, but

how are these altered! Though you are in one respect the same ye were, for

the number of your limbs, and as to the shape of your body, yet if a person

that knew you when ye were in your cradle, had been absent from you for

some years, and saw you when grown up, then thousand to one if he would

know you at all, ye are so altered, so different from what ye were, when ye

were little ones. And as the words plainly imply, that there has a great

change past upon our bodies since we were children, so before we can go to

heaven, there must as great a change pass upon our souls. Our souls

considered in a physical sense are still the same, there is to be no

philosophical change wrought on them. But then, as for our temper, habit

and conduct, we must be so changed and altered, that those who knew us the

other day, when in a state of sin, and before we knew Christ, and are

acquainted with us now, must see such an alteration, that they may stand as

much amazed at it, as a person at the alteration wrought on any person he

has not seen for twenty years from his infancy.

2. But I think it proper to premise something farther, because this

text is the grand strong-hold of Arminians, and others. They learn of the

devil to bring texts to propagate bad principles: when the devil had a mind

to tempt Jesus Christ, because Christ quoted scripture, therefore Satan did

so too. And such persons, that their doctrine and bad principles may go

down the better, would fain persuade unwary and unstable souls, that they

are founded upon the word of God. Though the doctrine of original sin, is a

doctrine written in such legible characters in the word of God, that he who

runs may read it; and though, I think, everything without us, and

everything within us, plainly proclaims that we are fallen creatures;

though the very heathens, who had no other light, but the dim light of

unassisted reason, complained of this, for they felt the wound, and

discovered the disease, but were ignorant of the cause of it; yet there are

too many persons of those who have been baptized in the name of Christ,

that dare to speak against the doctrine of original sin, and are angry with

those ill-natured ministers, who paint man in such black colors. Say they,

"It cannot be that children come into the world with the guild of Adam's

sin lying upon them." Why? Desire them to prove it from Scripture, and they

will urge this very text, our Lord tells us, "Except ye be converted, and

become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Now their argument runs thus, "It is implied in the words of the text, that

little children are innocent, and that they come into the world like a mere

blank piece of white paper, otherwise our Lord must argue absurdly, for he

could never pretend to say, that we must be converted, and be made like

wicked creatures; that would be no conversion." But, my dear friends, this

is to make Jesus Christ speak what he never intended, and what cannot be

deduced from his words. That little children are guilty, I mean, that they

are conceived and born in sin, is plain from the whole tenor of the book of

God. David was a man after God's own heart, yet, says he, "I was conceived

in sin." Jeremiah speaking of every one's heart, says, "the heart of man is

deceitful and desperately wicked above all things." God's servants

unanimously declare, (and Paul cites it from one of them) "that we are

altogether now become abominable, altogether gone out of the way of

original righteousness, there is not one of us that doeth good (by nature),

no not one." And I appeal to any of you that are mothers and fathers, if ye

do not discern original sin or corruption in your children, as soon as they

come into the world; and as they grow up, if ye do not discover self-will,

and an aversion to goodness. What is the reason your children are so averse

to instruction, but because they bring enmity into the world with them,

against a good and gracious God? So then, it is plain from scripture and

fact, that children are born in sin, and consequently that they are

children of wrath. And for my part, I think, that the death of every child

is a plain proof of original sin; sickness and death came into the world by

sin, and it seems not consistent with God's goodness and justice, to let a

little child be sick or die, unless Adam's first sin was imputed to him. If

any charge God with injustice for imputing Adam's sin to a little child,

behold we have gotten a second Adam, to bring our children to him.

Therefore, when our Lord says, "unless ye are converted, and become as

little children," we are not to understand, as though our Lord would

insinuate, that little children are perfectly innocent; but in a

comparative, and as I shall show you by and by, in a rational sense. Little

children are innocent, compare them with grown people; but take them as

they are, and as they come into the world, they have hearts that are

sensual, and minds which are carnal. And I mention this with the greatest

concern, because I verily believe, unless parents are convinced of this,

they will never take proper care of their children's education. If parents

were convinced, that children's hearts were so bad as they are, you would

never be fond of letting them go to balls, assemblies, and plays, the

natural tendency of which is to debauch their minds, and make them the

children of the devil. If parents were convinced of this, I believe they

would pray more, when they bring their children to be baptized, and would

not make it a mere matter of form. And I believe, if they really were

convinced, that their children were conceived in sin, they would always put

up that petition, before their children came into the world, which I have

heard that a good woman always did put up, "Lord Jesus, let me never bear a

child for hell or the devil." O! is it not to be feared, that thousands of

children will appear, at the great day, before God, and in presence of

angels and men will say, Father and mother, next to the wickedness of mine

own heart, I owe my damnation to your bad education of me.

Having premised these two particulars, I now proceed to show in what

sense we are really to understand the words, that we must be converted and

become like little children. The Evangelist tell us, "that the disciples at

this time came unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of

heaven?" These disciples had imbibed the common prevailing notion, that the

Lord Jesus Christ was to be a temporal prince; they dreamed of nothing but

being ministers of state, of sitting on Christ' right hand in his kingdom,

and lording it over God's people; they thought themselves qualified for

state offices, as generally ignorant people are apt to conceive of

themselves. Well, say they, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

Which of us shall have the chief management of public affairs? A pretty

question for a few poor fishermen, who scarcely knew how to drag their nets

to shore, much less how to govern a kingdom. Our Lord, therefore, in the

2nd verse, to mortify them, calls a little child, and sets him in the midst

of them. This action was as much as if our Lord had said, "Poor creatures!

Your imaginations are very towering; you dispute who shall be greatest in

the kingdom of heaven; I will make this little child preach to you, or I

will preach to you by him. Verily I say unto you, (I who am truth itself, I

know in what manner my subjects are to enter into my kingdom; I say unto

you, ye are so far from being in a right temper for my kingdom, that)

except ye be converted, and become as this little child, ye shall not enter

into the kingdom of heaven, (unless ye are, comparatively speaking, as

loose to the world, as loose to crowns, scepters, and kingdoms, and earthly

things, as this poor little child I have in my hand) ye shall not enter

into my kingdom." So that what our Lord is speaking of, is not the

innocency of little children, if you consider the relation they stand in to

God, and as they are in themselves, when brought into the world; but what

our Lord means is, that as to ambition and lust after the world, we must in

this sense become as little children. Is there never a little boy or girl

in this congregation? Ask a poor little child, that can just speak, about a

crown, scepter, or kingdom, the poor creature has no notion about it: give

a little boy or girl a small thing to play with, it will leave the world to

other people. Now in this sense we must be converted, and become as little

children; that is, we must be as loose to the world, comparatively

speaking, as a little child.

Do not mistake me, I am not going to persuade you to shut up your

shops, or leave your business; I am not going to persuade you, that if ye

will be Christians, ye must turn hermits, and retire out of the world; ye

cannot leave your wicked hearts behind you, when you leave the world; for I

find when I am alone, my wicked heart has followed me, go where I will. No,

the religion of Jesus is a social religion. But though Jesus Christ does

not call us to go out of the world, shut up our shops, and leave our

children to be provided for by miracles; yet this must be said to the honor

Christianity, if we are really converted, we shall be loose from the world.

Though we are engaged in it, and are obliged to work for our children;

though we are obliged to follow trades and merchandise, and to be

serviceable to the commonwealth, yet if we are real Christians, we shall be

loose to the world; though I will not pretend to say that all real

Christians have attained to the same degree of spiritual-mindedness. This

is the primary meaning of these words, that we must be converted and become

as little children; nevertheless, I suppose the words are to be understood

in other senses.

When our Lord says, we must be converted and become as little

children, I suppose he means also, that we must be sensible of our

weakness, comparatively speaking, as a little child. Every one looks upon a

little child, as a poor weak creature; as one that ought to go to school

and learn some new lesson every day; and as simple and artless; one without

guile, having not learned the abominable art, called dissimulation. Now in

all these senses, I believe we are to understand the words of the text. _

Are little children sensible of their weakness? Must they be led by the

hand? Must we take hold of them or they will fall? So, if we are converted,

if the grace of God be really in our hearts, my dear friends, however we

may have thought of ourselves once, whatever were our former high exalted

imaginations; yet we shall now be sensible of our weakness; we shall no

more say, "We are rich and increased with goods, and lack nothing;" we

shall be inwardly poor; we shall feel "that we are poor, miserable, blind,

and naked." And as a little child gives up its hand to be guided by a

parent or a nurse, so those who are truly converted, and are real

Christians, will give up the heart, their understandings, their wills,

their affections, to be guided by the word, providence, and the Spirit of

the Lord. Hence it is, that the Apostle, speaking of the sons of God, says,

"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are (and to be sure he means

they only are) the sons of God."

And as little children look upon themselves to be ignorant creatures,

so those that are converted, do look upon themselves as ignorant too. Hence

it is, that John, speaking to Christians, calls them little children; "I

have written unto you, little children." And Christ's flock is called a

little flock, not only because little in number, but also because those who

are members of his flock, are indeed little in their own eyes. Hence that

great man, that great apostle of the Gentiles, that spiritual father of so

many thousands of souls, that man, who in the opinion of Dr. Goodwin, "fits

nearest the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, in glory," that chosen vessel,

the Apostle Paul, when he speaks of himself, says, "Unto me, who am less

than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach

among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." Perhaps some of you,

when you read these words, will be apt to think that Paul did not speak

true, that he did not really feel what he said; because you judge Paul's

heart by your own proud hearts: but the more ye get of the grace of God,

and the more ye are partakers of the divine life, the more will ye see your

own meanness and vileness, and be less in your own eyes. Hence it is, that

Mr. Flavel, in his book called, HUSBANDRY SPIRITUALIZED, compares young

Christians to green corn; which before it is ripe, shoots up very high, but

there is little solidity in it: whereas, an old Christian is like ripe

corn; it doth not lift up its head so much, but then it is more weighty,

and fit to be cut down, and put into the farmer's barn. Young Christians

are also like little rivulets; ye know rivulets are shallow, yet make great

noise; but an old Christian, he makes not much noise, he goes on sweetly,

like a deep river sliding into the ocean.

And as a little child is looked upon as an harmless creature, and

generally speaks true; so, if we are converted, and become as little

children, we shall be guileless as well as harmless. What said the dear

Redeemer when he saw Nathaniel? As though it was a rare sight he gazed

upon, and would have others gaze upon it; "Behold an Israelite indeed:" Why

so? "In whom is no guile." Do not mistake me; I am not saying, that

Christians ought not to be prudent; they ought exceedingly to pray to God

for prudence, otherwise they may follow the delusions of the devil, and by

their imprudence give wrong touches to the ark of God. It was the

lamentation of a great man, "God has given me many gifts, but God has not

given me prudence." Therefore, when I say, a Christian must be guileless, I

do not mean, he should expose himself, and lie open to every one's assault:

we should pray for the wisdom of the serpent, though we shall generally

learn this wisdom by our blunders and imprudence: and we must make some

advance in Christianity, before we know our imprudence. A person really

converted, can say, as it is reported of a philosopher, "I wish there was a

window in my breast, that every one may see the uprightness of my heart and

intentions:" And though there is too much of the old man in us, yet, if we

are really converted, there will be in us no allowed guile, we shall be

harmless. And that is the reason why the poor Christian is too often

imposed upon; he judgeth other people by himself; having an honest heart,

he thinks every one as honest as himself, and therefore is a prey to every

one. I might enlarge upon each of these points, it is a copious and

important truth; but I do not intend to multiply many marks and heads.

And therefore, as I have something to say by way of personal

application, give me leave therefore, with the utmost tenderness, and at

the same time with faithfulness, to call upon you, my dear friends. My text

is introduced in an awful manner, "Verily I say unto you;" and what Jesus

said then, he says now to you, to me, and to as many as sit under a

preached gospel, and to as many as the Lord our God shall call. Let me

exhort you to see whether ye are converted; whether such a great and

almighty change has passed upon any of your souls. As I told you before, so

I tell you again, ye all hope to go to heaven, and I pray God Almighty ye

may be all there: when I see such a congregation as this, if my heart is in

a proper frame, I feel myself ready to lay down my life, to be instrumental

only to save one soul. It makes my heart bleed within me, it makes me

sometimes most unwilling to preach, lest that word that I hope will do

good, may increase the damnation of any, and perhaps of a great part of the

auditory, through their own unbelief. Give me leave to deal faithfully

with your souls. I have your dead warrant in my hand: Christ has said it,

Jesus will stand to it, it is like the laws of the Medes and Persians, it

altereth not. Hark, O man! Hark, O woman! He that hath ears to hear, let

him hear what the Lord Jesus Christ says, "Verily I say unto you, except ye

be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the

kingdom of heaven." Though this is Saturday night, and ye are now preparing

for the Sabbath, for what you know, you may yet never live to see the

Sabbath. You have had awful proofs of this lately; a woman died but

yesterday, a man died the day before, another was killed by something that

fell from a house, and it may be in twenty-four hours more, many of you may

be carried into an unalterable state. Now then, for God's sake, for your

own souls sake, if ye have a mind to dwell with God, and cannot bear the

thought of dwelling in everlasting burning, before I go any further,

silently put up one prayer, or say Amen to the prayer I would put in your

mouths; "Lord, search me and try me, Lord, examine my heart, and let my

conscience speak; O let me know whether I am converted or not!" What say

ye, my dear hearers? What say ye, my fellow-sinners? What say ye, my guilty

brethren? Has God by his blessed Spirit wrought such a change in your

hearts? I do not ask you, whether God has made you angels? That I know will

never be; I only ask you, Whether ye have any well-grounded hope to think

that God has made you new creatures in Christ Jesus? So renewed and changed

your natures, that you can say, I humbly hope, that as to the habitual

temper and tendency of my mind, that my heart is free from wickedness; I

have a husband, I have a wife, I have also children, I keep a shop, I mind

my business; but I love these creatures for God' sake, and do every thing

for Christ: and if God was now to call me away, according to the habitual

temper of my mind, I can say, Lord, I am ready; and however I love the

creatures, I hope I can say, Whom have I in heaven but thee? Whom have I in

heaven, O my God and my dear Redeemer, that I desire in comparison of thee?

Can you thank God for the creatures, and say at the same time, these are

not my Christ? I speak in plain language, you know my way of preaching: I

do not want to play the orator, I do not want to be counted a scholar; I

want to speak so as I may reach poor people's hearts. What say ye, my dear

hearers? Are ye sensible of your weakness? Do ye feel that ye are poor,

miserable, blind, and naked by nature? Do ye give up your hearts, your

affections, your wills, your understanding to be guided by the Spirit of

God, as a little child gives up its hand to be guided by its parent? Are ye

little in your own eyes? Do ye think meanly of yourselves? And do you want

to learn something new every day? I mention these marks, because I am apt

to believe they are more adapted to a great many of your capacities. A

great many of you have not that showing of affection ye sometimes had,

therefore ye are for giving up all your evidences, and making way for the

devil's coming into your heart. You are not brought up to the mount as ye

used to be, therefore ye conclude ye have no grace at all. But if the Lord

Jesus Christ has emptied thee, and humbled thee, if he is giving thee to se

and know that thou art nothing; though thou are not growing upward, thou

art growing downward; and though thou hast not so much joy, yet thy heart

is emptying to be more abundantly replenished by and by. Can any of you

follow me? Then, give God thanks, and take the comfort of it.

If thou art thus converted, and become a little child, I welcome thee,

in the name of the Lord Jesus, into God's dear family; I welcome thee, in

the name of the dear Redeemer, into the company of God's children. O ye

dear souls, though the world sees nothing in you, though there be no

outward difference between you and others, yet I look upon you in another

light, even as so many kings sons and daughters: all hail! In the name of

God, I wish every one of you joy from my soul, ye sons and daughters of the

King of kings. Will not you henceforth exercise a child-like temper? Will

not such a thought melt down your hearts, when I tell you, that the great

God, who might have frowned you to hell for your secret sins, that nobody

knew of but God and your own souls, and who might have damned you times

without number, hath cast the mantle of his love over you; his voice hath

been, Let that man, that woman live, for I have found a ransom. O will ye

not cry out, Why me, Lord? Was King George to send for any of your

children, and were you to hear they were to be his adopted sons, how highly

honored would you think your children to be? What great condescension was

it for Pharaoh's daughter to take up Moses, a poor child exposed in an ark

of bulrushes, and bred him up for her child? But what is that happiness in

comparison of thine, who was the other day a child of the devil, but now by

converting grace art become a child of God? Are ye converted? Are ye become

like little children? Then what must ye do? My dear hearers, be obedient to

God, remember God is your father; and as every one of you must know what a

dreadful cross it is to have a wicked, disobedient child; if ye do not want

your children to be disobedient to you, for Christ's sake be not

disobedient to your heavenly parent. If God be your father, obey him: if

God be your father, serve him; love him with all your heart, love him with

all your might, with all your soul, and with all your strength. If God be

your father, fly from everything that may displease him; and walk worthy of

that God, who has called you to his kingdom and glory. If ye are converted

and become like little children, then behave as little children: they long

for the breast, and with it will be contented. Are ye new-born babes? Then

desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. I do not

want that Arminian husks should go down with you; ye are kings sons and

daughters, and have a more refined taste; you must have the doctrines of

grace; and blessed be God that you dwell in a country, where the sincere

word is so plainly preached. Are ye children? Then grow in grace, and in

the knowledge of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Have any of you

children that do not grow? Do not ye lament these children, and cry over

them; do not ye say, my child will never be fit for anything in the world?

Well, doth it grieve you to see a child that will not grow; how much must

it grieve the heart of Christ to see you grow so little? Will ye be always

children? Will ye be always learning the first principles of Christianity,

and never press forward toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling

of God in Christ Jesus? God forbid. Let the language of your heart be,

"Lord Jesus help me to grow, help me to learn more, learn me to live so as

my progress may be known to all!"

Are ye God's children? Are ye converted, and become like little

children? Then deal with God as your little children do with you; as soon

as ever they want any thing, or if any body hurt them, I appeal to

yourselves if they do not directly run to their parent. Well, are ye God's

children? Doth the devil trouble you? Doth the world trouble you? Go tell

your father of it, go directly and complain to God. Perhaps you may say, I

cannot utter fine words: but do any of you expect fine words from your

children? If they come crying, and can speak but half words, do not your

hearts yearn over them? And has not God unspeakably more pity to you? If ye

can only make signs to him; "As a father pitieth his children, so will the

Lord pity them that fear him." I pray you therefore be gold with your

Father, saying, "Abba, Father," Satan troubles me, the world troubles me,

my own mother's children are angry with me; heavenly Father, plead my

cause! The Lord will then speak for you some way or other.

Are ye converted, and become as little children, have ye entered into

God's family? Then assure yourselves, that your heavenly father will

chasten you now and then: "for what son is there whom the father chasteneth

not: if ye are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then are

ye bastards and not sons." It is recorded of bishop Latimer, that in the

house where he came to lodge, he overheard the master of the house say, I

thank God I never had a cross in my life: O said he, then I will not stay

here. I believe there is not a child of God, when in a good frame, but has

prayed for great humility; they have prayed for great faith, they have

prayed for great love, they have prayed for all the graces of the Spirit:

Do ye know, when ye put us these prayers, that ye did also say, Lord send

us great trials: for how is it possible to know ye have great faith,

humility and love, unless God put you into great trials, that ye may know

whether ye have them or not. I mention this, because a great many of the

children of God (I am sure it has been a temptation to me many times, when

I have been under God's smarting rod) when they have great trials, think

God is giving them over. If therefore ye are God's children; if ye are

converted and become as little children; do not expect that God will be

like a foolish parent; no, he is a jealous God, he loves his child too well

to spare his rod. How did he correct Miriam? How did he correct Moses? How

hath God in all ages corrected his dearest children? Therefore if ye are

converted, and become as little children, if God hath taken away a child,

or your substance, if God suffers friends to forsake you, and if you are

forsaken as it were both by God and man, say, Lord I thank thee! I am a

perverse child, or God would not strike me so often and so hard. Do not

blame your heavenly Father, but blame yourselves; he is a loving God, and a

tender Father, "he is afflicted in all our afflictions:" therefore when God

spake to Moses, he spake out of the bush, as much as to say, "Moses, this

bush represents my people; as this bush is burning with fire, so are my

children to burn with affliction; but I am in the bush; if the bush burns,

I will burn with it, I will be with them in the furnace, I will be with

them in the water, and though the water come over them, it shall not

overflow them."

Are ye God's children? Are ye converted and become as little children?

Then will ye not long to go home and see your Father? O happy they that

have gotten home before you; happy they that are up yonder, happy they who

have ascended above this field of conflict. I know not what you may think

of it, but since I heard that some, whose hearts God was pleased to work

upon, are gone to glory, I am sometimes filled with grief, that God is not

pleased to let me go home too. How can you see so much coldness among God's

people? How can ye see God's people like the moon, waxing and waning? Who

can but desire to be forever with the Lord? Thanks be to God, the time is

soon coming; thanks be to God, he will come and will not tarry. Do not be

impatient, God in his own time will fetch you home. And though ye may be

brought to short allowance now, though some of you may be narrow in your

circumstances, yet do not repine; a God, and the gospel of Christ, with

brown bread, are great riches. In thy Father's house there is bread enough

and to spare; though thou are now tormented, yet by and by thou shalt be

comforted; the angels will look upon it as an honor to convey thee to

Abraham's bosom, though thou are but a Lazarus here. By the frame of my

heart, I am much inclined to speak comfortably to God's people.

But I only mention one thing more, and that is, if ye are converted,

and become as little children, then for God's sake take care of doing what

children often do; they are too apt to quarrel one with another. O love one

another; "he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him." Joseph

knew that his brethren were in danger of falling out, therefore when he

left them, says he, "fall not out by the way." Ye are all children of the

same Father, ye are all going to the same place; why should ye differ? The

world has enough against us, the devil has enough against us, without our

quarreling with each other; O walk in love. If I could preach no more, if I

was not able to hold out to the end of my sermon, I would say as John did,

when he was grown old and could not preach, "Little children, love one

another:" if ye are God's children, then love one another. There is nothing

grieves me more, than the differences amongst God's people. O hasten that

time, when we shall either go to heaven, or never quarrel any more!

Would to God I could speak to all of you in this comfortable language;

but my master tells me, I must "not give that which is holy to dogs, I must

not cast pearls before swine;" therefore, though I have been speaking

comfortably, yet what I have been saying, especially in this latter part of

the discourse, belongs to children; it is children's bread, it belongs to

God's people. If any of you are graceless, Christless, unconverted

creatures, I charge you not to touch it, I fence it in the name of God;

here is a flaming sword turning every way to keep you from this bread of

life, till ye are turned to Jesus Christ. And therefore, as I suppose many

of you are unconverted, and graceless, go home! And away to your closets,

and down with your stubborn hearts before God; if ye have not done lit

before, let this be the night. Or, do not stay till ye go home; begin now,

while standing here; pray to God, and let the language of thy heart be,

Lord convert me! Lord make me a little child, Lord Jesus let me not be

banished from thy kingdom! My dear friends, there is a great deal more

implied in the words, than is expressed: when Christ says, "Ye shall not

enter into the kingdom of heaven," it is as much to say, "ye shall

certainly go to hell, ye shall certainly be damned, and dwell in the

blackness of darkness for ever, ye shall go where the worm dies not, and

where the fire is not quenched." The Lord God impress it upon your souls!

May an arrow (as one lately wrote me in a letter) dipped in the blood of

Christ, reach every unconverted sinner's heart! May God fulfill the text to

every one of your souls! It is he alone that can do it. If ye confess your

sins, and leave them, and lay hold on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit of

God shall be given you; if you will go and say, turn me, O my God! Thou

knowest not, O man, what the return of God may be to thee. Did I think that

preaching would be to the purpose, did I think that arguments would induce

you to come, I would continue my discourse till midnight. And however some

of you may hate me without a cause, would to God every one in this

congregation was as much concerned for himself, as at present (blessed be

God) I feel myself concerned for him. O that my head were waters, O that

mine eyes were a fountain of tears, that I might weep over an unconverted,

graceless, wicked, and adulterous generation. Precious souls, for God's

sake think what will become of you when ye die, if you die without being

converted; if ye go hence without the wedding garment, God will strike you

speechless, and ye shall be banished from his presence for ever and ever. I

know ye cannot dwell with everlasting burnings; behold then I show you a

way of escape; Jesus is the way, Jesus is the truth, the Lord Jesus Christ

is the resurrection and the live. It is his Spirit must convert you, come

to Christ, and ye shall have it; and may God for Christ's sake give it to

you all, and convert you, that we may all meet, never to part again, in his

heavenly kingdom; even so Lord Jesus, Amen and Amen.